by Kacey Stamats · August 19, 2014
Fire Dance explores the strained dynamic and explosive jealousies between two brothers. The play includes over twenty very brief sequential scenes, riding out rapid emotional shifts and dropping or dissolving more than a few plot lines before the abrupt fiery finale.
Alexander J. Morgan plays Sean, a New York lawyer with a rising career who returns home for his Mother’s Wake. When the play opens Sean is standing on the rooftop of their childhood apartment, grief and guilt stricken. He didn’t return home in time to see his Mother when she was dying, and soon he feels the need to move back home with his younger brother.
Sam Tilles embodies Sean’s brother Nicky, a forceful and mercurial firefighter who never left his mother or his community. Throughout the play Nicky describes himself in a heavy Brooklyn accent as “Lacking the capacity for tears,” yet for me he became the emotional center of this play. Tilles handles an unpredictable and terribly complex character with ease.
There are a plethora of offstage characters on the other side of closed doors, confession booths, phone calls, or the grave. The boy’s deceased parents are particularly well developed, both as complex human beings and as big-time religious symbols.
Tilles does a wonderful job of carrying his one-side of these conversations, but there was a strain on my suspension of disbelief in some of the interactions with Janice, Sean’s live-in girlfriend. At times the frustration of not having Janice became too real, not just for the brothers, but for me, an audience member. It would have been fabulous to see this vague and potentially misunderstood character living and breathing on-stage. So many of my questions left unresolved by Fire Dance center on her character’s choices.
I would be curious to see Fire Dance by Michael Parsons again when it is further along in development.